The Bronx Is New York City’s Only Borough Without A Bookstore. Meet The Woman Who’s Going To Change That.

“I canceled my life plans and decided to be the change I want to see in The Bronx.”

Sometimes you must read between the lines to reveal your truth.

Noëlle Santos did just that when it became clear that her beloved New York City borough, The Bronx, had no bookstores. What she did next was life-changing.

"Two years ago, I was outraged when I realized my borough of 42.7 square miles, over 1.4 million people, and 10 colleges, only had one bookstore — an inaccessible Barnes & Noble that has since closed its doors, leaving us with not one," Santos told A Plus. "I canceled my life plans and decided to be the change I want to see in The Bronx."

From her passion came her concept for The Lit. Bar, a bookstore and wine bar for sophisticated readers, for which Santos recently launched a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo to help open it in the borough she calls home.


Photo Courtesy of Noëlle Santos

"My ultimate goal is to spread book culture in The Bronx," she explained. "Beyond that, I aim to fight against the negative stigmas attached to my borough and secure the investments my thriving community deserves — even if that means we have to do it ourselves. I hope to inspire other local entrepreneurs to no longer measure our success by how far we can get away from here, but stay and build businesses that are for us and by us."

While Santos' business would cater to a more mature reader, she does not want to leave little bookworms out.

"The Lit. Bar has been redesigned to be a family space during the daytime and weekends, and my once sexy literary plans will now be reserved for evenings and special events," the Afro-Latina said.

Santos is on the path to not only bring a bookstore back to The Bronx but to reenergize a community of color that can use literature to learn more about its history.

"I'm not an expert on urban education, but from my experience as a reader from the 'hood, people of color especially need this access to learn the history stolen from us and not told in our school curriculum," she insisted. "I credit reading to making up for some of my lost identity.

"In my community in particular, books offer a form of escapism from our harsh environments, and gives insight into the lives of others and what is possible for ourselves," Santos continued. "Books gave me empathy for those unlike me, showed me professions I never knew existed, and empowered me to feel equal to other races outside of my environment."  

Check Out More Noëlle and The Lit. Bar:

And for more on bookstores, check out this spot in Egypt:


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